15 March 2017 Community Debate – Is the Racial Discrimination Act in need of change?

Beit Aharon Synagogue together with JCCV and the Mt Scopus Parents Association invite you to a community debate on Wednesday 15th March 2017 at 7.30pm – $12 + booking fee entry.

Guest Speakers:  Georgina Downer, Mark Dreyfus QC MP , Rabbi James Kennard, and  Tim Wilson MP
Moderator: Anton Block

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Pre-bookings advised to ensure a seat.

Debate will be held at Gandel Besen school 15 Mayfield St, St Kilda East VIC 3183

About the speakers

Georgina Downer


Georgina has extensive experience in foreign policy, most recently as the Director of Asialink Diplomacy at the University of Melbourne. Previously, she was a diplomat at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, and occupied various positions at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra.

Georgina has also worked as a corporate lawyer at Minter Ellison Lawyers in Melbourne, and as a researcher for US Senator Chuck Hagel and the Baroness Howe of Idlicote in the House of Lords, UK.

Georgina regularly appears on television, radio and in print as a commentator on Australian politics and foreign policy. She is a member of the Victorian Liberal Party’s Administrative Committee and a director of the Indigenous arts project, The Torch.

Mark Dreyfus QC MP

The Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP was elected to the House of Representatives as the Member for Isaacs in November 2007 and re-elected in 2010, 2013 and 2016, the first Jewish representative of the Isaacs electorate.

Mark’s maiden speech to Parliament reflected on his experience working with Indigenous Australians and his passion for the environment. He spoke of his concern about the planning of our urban environments and the critical importance of the quality of policy, laws, and administration in each of these areas.

Mark led Labor’s successful opposition to the Abbott Government’s proposed gutting of the protections against racial hate speech contained in Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, and he continues to work with communities across Australia to ensure that our long-standing protections against racial hate speech are not rolled back.

Rabbi James Kennard

Rabbi James Kennard has been the Principal of Mount Scopus Memorial College since 2007 and is a popular speaker and columnist.

A native of the UK, he was Head of two schools there before coming to Australia.

Rabbi Kennard has a degree in Maths from Oxford University, and Rabbinic ordination from Yeshivot in Israel.

He and Vicky have five children, three of whom live in Israel, and a clutch of grandchildren.

Tim Wilson MP

Tim Wilson, Federal Liberal Member for Goldstein – Tim Wilson was first elected in 2016 and achieved the strongest result in the Goldstein’s history for the Liberal Party. As a proud liberal he is committed to economic and social freedom, underpinned by the preservation of our culture and institutions.

He formally served as Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner. In that role he worked with the government to reform laws to stop and prevent terrorism, improving economic opportunities for indigenous Australians as well as standing up for laws to protect free speech and stop marginalised communities from public harassment.

Prior to serving as Commissioner he ran his own business, was a regular contributor on television and radio, was a policy director for a public policy think tank and worked in international development across South East Asia. Amongst many awards, he was recognised as one of the ten emerging leaders of Australian society by The Australian newspaper in 2009.


Anton Block (moderator)

Anton’s community service commenced in about 1990 when he joined B’nai Brith Young Adults, which was a chapter of the International B’nai Brith organisation for 18 to 25 year olds.  Its focus was primarily social and community service.

In 1998 Anton joined the executive of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (“JCCV”).  In Anton’s first year on the executive he was charged with the responsibility of developing a mediation panel for the community.  Anton quickly moved on to becoming vice president, a position he occupied for 4 and a half years and then to the position of president in 2005, which he held for 3 years.

In 2005 Anton also joined the board of the B’nai Brith Anti-Defamation Commission (“ADC”) became president of the Jewish Emergency Management Plan Inc, a director of the Community Security Group and a Victorian Councillor to the ECAJ.

In 2010 Anton became the chairman of ADC and recruited a new board to reinvigorate the work of the ADC.  Anton served as chairman for 2 years until November 2012.

In October 2012 Anton became the president of the St. Kilda Hebrew Congregation and set upon the task of transforming the Shule from being a ceremonial shule to being a community shule.

In November 2016, Anton was elected as the 19th president of the ECAJ.

When not working for the community, Anton is a partner at Kliger Partners practicing primarily as a litigator and mediator in disputes involving commercial and property transactions, owners’ corporations, building matters and negligence.